Monday, 16 June 2014
The 'issue' with playing tennis in France is the scenery, it is in a word 'distracting'. After deciding that the best thing that i could do whilst on the '91 tennis tour was to actually 'live a little', the train stop at St Raphael made the decision rather meritorious. I remember sitting next to an elderly gentleman when the train arrived , that's when the 'pigeon English' commenced. "I go to take photo of boats and water, you stay at train stop"?
"Wee, I stay here, you take photo, bus to St Maxime arrive soon".
'Pigeon English or 'Anglais' was as much a part of the French trip that Pizza and pasta was for dinner, it was all part of the fun, I even talked like that when I got home. "Thommo can you quit talking s..., you are back in land of Oz"......
Anyhow to the Riviera, St Raphael was the place I needed to catch a bus to get to St Maxime, the location I was due to play a tournament . It's funny how I 'jagged' so many rather unique situations while I was on this tour, it was as though I was being looked after by a 'higher being'.
The bus trip with the elderly gent to my tournament destination was one of those learning experiences in life, he was a man who was doing the 'usual European thing', "seeing my family". I trusted this man with my Worldly possessions while I went snapping boats and coast line in St Raphael, if he had 'done a runner' I would have been up s... creek without a paddle. Chances of this old gent doing a runner was slim.
Just wished i had taken his number and address, though keeping in touch with people back in '91 was a little different from now days, I owed him a beer at least, never saw him again. He gave me directions to the tennis club and wished me all the best. 'Pierre' was a nice fellow, France is full of nice people.
My walk to the tennis club at St Maxime was actually along the beach as i took 'Pierre's advice and rather than dodge traffic, I took the scenic route, glad i did.
I walked about a kilometer , 'Pierre' told me "you will like tennis club Glenn, beautiful". 'Pierre' was a man who knew the area, the tennis club to me was the most beautiful club I had seen , but of course only until I visited Monte Carlo 4 days later. That's the thing about France and tennis clubs, the 'best one I have ever seen' is 8th on the list by the time you go home.
I spent hours at The St Maxime Tennis Club until I found someone who spoke 'Anglais', the rest is history, my old chapters tell the rest of the story. St Raphael is a spot on the French Riviera that will long hold a place in my memory, a place I first took photo's of 'the best place i have ever seen', until of course I walked a kilometer, and then 4 days later in Monte Carlo. The scenery got better as the days went by.
'Pierre' i am sure would be either 95 years old or long gone by now , a man who gave me some directions as I searched for something that I seriously don't know to this day what I was even searching for. At age 21 with a good forehand but nothing more than high hopes I suppose i was simply looking for perspective , maybe some ideas , maybe a story or two to tell. Maybe that makes the most sense.
Playing tennis in Europe will give you an idea on what is required to be successful at it, the lessons you learn along the way regarding culture is worth way more than the occasional win . I was lucky to have done what I did back then , I would recommend it to anyone who has aspirations to play the game at the highest possible level. It puts the game fair in your face and says "welcome to the jungle, show us what you got".
If you are not successful at tennis while you are on the Riviera I know a little bar on the water front in St Maxime where a Corona can take away the disappointment of another early loss in a European Money Tournament.
Despite it's frustrations, it can be a way of experiencing things way more interesting than the game itself and if ever you pack the rackets for Europe , take a train to St Raphael, say 'Bonjour' to Pierre' from me.....